Sun, Jan 02, 2011
Security Paranoia Strikes Again, Pilot Error Blamed
A short-term communications failure on a scheduled airliner
resulted in yet another evacuation of a number of government
offices in the Washington, DC, area.
According to the FAA's Diane Spitaliere, Piedmont Airlines
Flight 4352 was enroute to Ronald Reagan Washington National
Airport from Hilton Head, South Carolina, and lost contact during
its approach. The result was the scrambling of the North American
Aerospace Defense Command's on-duty fighters, based a short
distance away at Andrews Air Force Base.
Spitaliere added that, "Shortly after that we reestablished
contact with the plane, and it has been on the ground at (Reagan
National Airport) for a while. Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) officials are interviewing the pilots."
Another FAA source, Jim Peters, has been quoted in media reports
saying that the feds are reviewing a "pilot readback error" that
appears to be at the core of the matter. The total comm outage
reportedly lasted approximately 15 minutes. Operated as a codeshare
flight with US Airways, the deHavilland DHC-8 (Dash 8) is one
of 44 (in various configurations) in service with Piedmont.
Among the buildings evacuated were the US Capitol, which was
fairly vacant due to the holiday recess. Capitol Police started the
evacuation order at approximately 1330 Saturday, according to
Sergeant Kimberly Schneider. A little after 1400, police reported
that the “threat had dissipated” and personnel were
allowed back to their offices.
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